|Josphat Bett on his way to winning last year's race at the Tuskys Cross Country event|
Every edition of this event has seen races, especially the senior men's race, being exciting from the start to the finish. The first 800m often would seem to be a different race altogether of sprinters and renowned pace setters.
For example, last year Andrew Rotich, Asbel Kiprop's pace setter led the field through the first 600m before Abraham Kiplagat, the 800m Commonwealth Games medalist took over up to around the 1km point before the real cross country contenders, slowly by slowly, began to make it to the leading pack. The pack would grow bigger at some points then one athlete would surge forward and the few who would go with him would form a smaller pack again at the front as the race progressed.
One exciting thing about races in Kenya: even though they do not invite big names, a big number of champions just turn up at the starting line without any fanfare. Asbel Kiprop, Conseslus Kipruto and Vivian Cheruiyot are some of the Olympic champions who often participate in this event and are very likely to toe the start line again on Sunday.
Last year's men and women senior titles went to Josphat Bett and Alice Aprot respectively. The junior races went to Peter Kipserem and Sandra Jebet. It has always been hard for winners to defend their titles in Kenyan races, and it remains to be seen whether the trend will continue during the 11th edition of the event this weekend. The best bets to defend their titles are probably the women since both won their respective races at the Ndalat Gaa cross country in October.
Pamela Jelimo, the Olympic 800m gold medalist from Beijing, was one of the surprise entrants in last year's race. She did not feature again in any other race after that, but she should be part of the expected surprise entrants this year. Among the runners who have run thrilling races on this course and would be great to see them running again here include Moses Mosop and Gladys Chemweno.
The Tuskys cross country has also always been one of the favorite events to the athletes themselves from the nice course, great organization, entertainment and the prizes that go down to a large number of finishers. Runners win items ranging from fridges, Flat TV sets, home theaters and furniture, among others. It is one great event that caters to both fans and athletes.